Morning: The last time I walked through these doors, this was a functioning car factory. Now I feel like a tomb raider. An early ’90s keyboard and computer sit on a deserted desk, the plastic yellowed with age. Off to the left is the dramatic circular space that once housed a showroom, engineering office, and design studio over three levels. To the right is the dusty emptiness of the shop floor where skilled technicians once painstakingly hand-assembled the Bugatti EB110.
I came to Campogalliano, near Modena, Italy, in 1992 to see Romano Artioli’s dream made real. Five years earlier the Italian businessman had secured the rights to the Bugatti name, and shortly after announced plans to build a modern mid-engine Bugatti supercar. But only 128 EB110s were ever produced, the venture collapsing into bankruptcy in 1995.
Evening: I’m sitting in Horacio Pagani’s garage as twilight settles softly over the remains of a scorching Italian summer’s day. Two autonomous electric mowers hum across the massive lawn leading down to the lake, where, on a tree-covered island, a flock of large white birds is gathering for the night. Lights twinkle in the impeccably restored farmhouse in the corner of the block. Water cascades down a rock feature into the nearby swimming pool. The man himself is quietly fussing over a grill on the forecourt, not far from where his Porsche 911R and Ferrari 812 Superfast are parked.
A handful of Pagani staffers, including Horacio’s son Christopher, test driver Andrea Palma, concept and composite design chief Francesco Perini, and commercial director Hannes Zanon, are sitting with me at a table nestled between a Porsche Cayman GT4 and a Ferrari 458. Beyond is a 2005 Ford GT in Gulf livery, and its 2018 successor, finished in red with white stripes. To the left is the E-Type Horacio restored himself, and a brace of Porsches—a Carrera GT and a 918 Spyder. In front of us, the Huayra Roadster BC that in a few weeks will be one of the stars of the Pebble Beach Car Week.
Horacio returns with a platter full of grilled fresh seafood for the table, and the conversation turns to the future. The future of Pagani Automobili.
Operating out of a small facility called the Atelier—just 15 miles across Modena from Artioli’s dream factory—Pagani’s hypercar artisans produce 45 cars each year. They’re halfway through the 100 Huayra Roadsters announced at the 2017 Geneva show. All 40 Huayra Roadster BCs—lighter, more powerful, faster, and created after loyal Pagani customers started sending unsolicited deposits for one—have been sold before production has even started. It hadn’t even been an idea on a piece of paper. Business is looking pretty good for tiny Pagani Automobili through 2022.
A brand-new Pagani hypercar, that’s what. Code-named C10, it will be powered by the revised AMG-built twin-turbo V-12 unveiled in the Roadster BC. Called M158 Evo, the engine, now branded Pagani, makes 791 hp and 774 lb-ft of torque. And, no doubt with an eye to the soaring value of his stick-shift 911R, Horacio says there will also be a C10 with a traditional manual transmission.
The M158 Evo engine is certified through 2025. Horacio says he was relieved when, while discussing the future of the AMG engine supply deal at a handover meeting at the Geneva Motor Show last March, Dieter Zetsche’s successor at the helm of Daimler, Ola Källenius, said, “We need to talk about the next 10 to 15 years.”
But I’m struck, as we chat, by his acute interest in high-performance electric cars. He quizzes me about the Porsche Taycan, the Pininfarina Battista, and Mate Rimac’s 1,888-hp, 258-mph C_Two. Then he drops the zinger: He’s planning to build an all-electric version of the C10 by 2024.
Horacio Pagani has succeeded where Romano Artioli failed: This year, Pagani Automobili is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The mere fact that he’s contemplating an electric Pagani, a car that will undoubtedly be as fast and exotic and as beautifully finished as the Zonda and Huayra, suggests he’s intent on ensuring the company also celebrates its 30th.